By: Emmanuel Olaoluwa.

Image Credit: Ray’s Photography (For Boys Without Borders)

Much, if not all, of the world’s focus on tackling the problematic educational exclusion has been emphatically structured solely around the girl-child, to the neglect of her male counterpart. By educational exclusion, I technically refer to the rampant, perhaps most prominent, challenge of education in the Nigerian sociospace in the past more-than-a-few years i.e. being a dropout.

It is the girl-child, often seen as ‘the weaker vessel’ and ‘God’s most dainty creature’, who naturally provokes a readymade societal sympathy and thus gets the quicker, also the most profound emotional, psychological as well as physical and financial remedial measures to help embattle and reform the ailing parts of her life. The girl-child has the world at her feet and the world, in return, at her beck and call.

This is not the case for the boy-child. He has been left to figure his own issues out, and act as a man whenever necessary. This explains the reason for the fact that much of the organisations that inhabit the humanitarian world are fixated singularly on the needs of the girl, with only a few conjoining the concerns of children irrespective of gender albeit far fewer are those organisations who centralise their raison dêtre around the needs of the boy-child. A lamentable situation!

Perhaps something is athwart in the world’s psyche? Or perhaps the boy-child needs less of our devoted attention and care while the girl-child continuously luxuriates in surfeit excesses of affection? And, more importantly, what causative factors engender the polarised treatment of both genders particularly as regards the problematic of educational exclusion? And what factors can possibly settle the score? What are the feasible panacea to this long night of misery for the boy-child? Let’s see as follows.

It must first be noted that the exclusion or the marginalisation of the boy-child largely stems from a place of stereotype and misconception. It is still surprising that in this twenty-first century, there are more than a handful of people who maintain that man (across all age levels) must brave any challenging circumstances he is embroiled in.

To such people, the male and, in this case, the boy-child, is the hero who must act with intrepidity without waiting for an intervening Deux ex Machina. He must hold his problem by the scruff of the neck, subdue it like the stronger gender that he is made of and emerge, like a shirtless Indian hero, from a cloud of smoke, unscathed and in style. Okay, too much details there.

Walk down the streets and you see people with disproving stereotypes on feminine heroism. One of such disclamation is the case of the legendary Moremi. To them, such tales of feminine bravado was purely the invention of our forefathers told derisively under moonlight. Women are not as strong to even hurt a fly (don’t you see how they scamper about in fear when they see cockroaches and rats?) let alone take on the Herculean task of annihilating scores of historical supervillains, so they’d say.

This lee to many organisations not minding the plights of the boy-child, since by their natural abilities, they are strong enough to be welcomed in the tales of male heroism without any disclamation. It is this same stereotype that extends into the outlook on educational exclusion.

True, more than a few boys have been beneficiaries of NGO programmes and pro-human agencies. They have been rescued from their displacement from class (caused by whatever factor may be) and have been reintegrated into the world of academia which is the bedrock of every sane society. It must be admitted, however, that the lens of attention is more directed towards the girl-child.

The boy, like the Indian hero, is often put to challenge and wrestle his way out of misery. Unfortunately, he does not always succeed. And the attestation to this unsuccessful endeavour are evidenced in the various street louts, the cybercriminals inter alia, that increasingly people human population.

So few wriggle their way through the conundrum, most end up in the categories hitherto listed and some who are intent on living a ‘normal’ life learn works like barbing, carpentry, farming (for people) – all of them dead-ends at the end of the day.

Let’s take a cursory look at the myriad of scholarships out there. There are scholarships that are beneficial to everyone regardless of the gender, and there are those meant solely for the female gender. There are not those solely for the male gender, or very few of them. In the world that attempts everything within it’s powers to preach equality, such occurrences makes for a derisiveness of the claim for equality. The world, in a valid and valiant effort to be equal, has left a humongous hole in the care for the boy-child.

Many more reasons abound for the marginalisation of the boy-child in regaining their educational momentum once astray. But like the stereotype, these reasons are mainly the faults of society. And the sure-fire recourse, having known the source from which this issue springs, is for the society to rethink and readdress itself. To do this, organisations mainly in advocacy for the boy-child need to reintensify their efforts and embark on large-scale campaigns, demythologizing conceptions of the male and the boy-child and constitutionally stronger.

He must be seen and treated at par with the female. Individual efforts do not take the backstage. A conflicted mind should acquaint him or herself with proper literature that preach the gospel of gender equilibrium. Also, as informed individuals, we should participate more in the illuminating quest of restructuring societal thinking. Through this coalition individual and group effort, sheer and consistent as they must be, the world will definitely be a better place.